Licensing academic content

One of the clearest lessons from Mosaic is how much content which may be used for learning exists on the open web through university domains, either in the websites of specific projects, individual academic initiative or other models.  However what is noticeable is that the vast majority of this material has no obvious licence or copyright statement attached to it.  It is a reasonable assumption that when academics put content on the open web, they think that they have shared it and made it open, and in reality for most use they have.  However attaching a licence such as Creative commons  allows for easier uptake. While in some cases this may be a deliberate omission, in most it is probably because they are unaware of these licences and what they mean, or they are aware of them, but don’t feel that they understand them well enough to implement them, or that they suspect using them may contravene IPR held by their university, and don’t know how to find out, so dodge the issue by not engaging with it.

It seems many of the barriers to reuse would be reduced if universities developed clear policies on licensing their exsiting web based outputs and applied it as broadly as possible across all their activities. This is happening already in certain domains – OERs and research outputs from an ever growing list of funders, but especially where universities are publicly funded, surely open licensing should be the default not the exception.

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